We caught up with James Lister from The Revellions after their single launch show at The Grand Social, Dublin, to talk about the new release and what we can expect from the new album.
Tell us a bit about yourselves, how did you all meet and how did the band start?
The band started many years ago and we’ve evolved over the years. Members have come and gone, myself and Michael the drummer have been there from the start. I met Juan who’s from Spain he plays bass we met about a year ago and we just kind of worked very well. Another friend Sean he plays rhythm guitar he came in to fill in and after a while we met Anna who’s a crazy woman and she plays the keys for us. We met Ed later on. Eds only been in the band about a year. We’ve been working on a record since then and we’ve almost completed it, it’s in the stages of being mixed and tonight we will be launching our single ‘False Hope ‘so any spare cash head to the record store and buy it.
There are 6 of you in the band does that make for crazy rehearsals with 6 opinions to hear, does democracy play a big part?
No – well it can, but not really. I do all the songwriting myself so a lot of the arrangements come from me. I suppose you give a bit of freedom to everybody in the band but at the end of the day the structures and stuff would be written by myself. Someone I think in every band has to have a stronger pull so the band actually works. But everyone that’s involved in our music is always well experienced. If we use any session players brass or anything they would be very good. We had a great backing singer come onto the album called Gina Rose, beautiful voice. Opinions are quite easy going, the lads are easy going, so there’s a lot of good continuity in the band. Everyone likes each other more or less, you have your ups and downs like everybody but I don’t know, it is what it is.
You have a diverse sound of Garage Surf Rock mixed with psychedelia and a bit of grunge at times does this mixed sound reflect different influences from different members of the band?
No. We listen to a lot of music though. My wife is Spanish she’s from Valencia so I’ve a lot of influence from worldwide music. I don’t try and get ourselves too into a niche we try and make it our own – our own stamp on any music that we like from any style.We do have a lot of influences from 60’s and 70’s dare I say 90’s but it’s always kind of keeping it flowing and keeping us all interested as members of the band. So we try not to focus entirely on one kind of style just so we can enjoy playing.
You guys have a knack for writing fun foot stomping tunes, Talk us through your music writing process, how you come up with the slick riffs and catchy hooks and melodies?
I write the song i bring it down we choose the instruments and sounds we want to use we don’t try and complete it all in a couple of nights it kind of evolves over weeks sometimes months, there’s no technique there’s no science to it, it works or it doesn’t really.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Everyday life, you know people, friends, stories nothing specific I like to take whatever goodness I can out of any situation, anything like that enlightens me I suppose.
You have released your new single ‘False Hope’ with b side Carrie-Ann tell us about those tracks?
‘False Hope’ – I was trying to write a song that I suppose I’m giving out a little bit at the situation I was in at the time I wrote it. About being told I have to do something and not wanting to do it and trying to resist. It doesn’t always work out that way but the song is kind of dragging me in that direction and that’s what I wanted to write the song about. Its false hope and you know an illusion basically that people offer you that’s not entirely true.
‘False Hope’ is trippy, floaty and groovy but appears a little tighter and more refined than your previous albums how do you feel you guys have progressed and developed from “The Revellions” and “Give it Time” albums?
Yeah I was trying to make a cleaner more suitable sound for a larger audience. I’m still writing for me but I wanted to write it more easier for people to grab onto because garage rock and roll music, it’s quite a little niche it’s quite a pigeon hole to be honest. But music wise I’ve evolved since I’ve started making records and working with engineers. Working in studios also has changed. I also know now a lot more how to get something I want to get like before I would have been told or supervised or assisted into going a direction where it maybe worked but maybe wasn’t exactly where I was trying to get in the first place, lack of knowledge on my own behalf and not being able to get there but now it’s a little bit different. We’d be pretty quick in getting the sound we want and we don’t have to be told. The second album I recorded myself and mixed and produced myself. So this album I didn’t have a lot of outside opinions and we got a great guy called Garry up in Red Lake Studios, he’s a great guy, great producer, great engineer place is lovely, nice wooden cabin up there you can get lost out there or whatever you want to do. You can stay out there for weeks no one will bother you.
Where did the idea for the cover art for ‘False Hope’ come from?
My wife is a designer so she’s quite reasonable, being my wife I can give out to her better than I can give out to any other designer when she see’s this she will definitely agree. She’s a saint and if I need something changed she will change it for me but she always has a better look at it then I would. Designing covers is not really something that i’m tuned into I’d like to pretend I was but it wouldn’t be in my forte. But she’s very good and I do trust her with our designs and stuff like that.
Your new album will be released later this year what can we expect from that?
There’s a bit of rock and roll in it and a bit of psychedelic in it and a bit of everything to be honest. I don’t think there is one specific sound – the sounds that we bring into it makes it kind of.., it’s not a one trick pony going home. I enjoyed making it I still haven’t finished we are still doing a bit of brass next month and a few songs need to be mixed but the way it’s shaping up at the moment I think it’s going to be fantastic.
Would you say you guys are at your best live?
Yes and no I love working in the studio. Live is great but I love working in the studio you have a lot more freedom. I do like live performances but making music and performing live is too separate things. You can do a lot of experiments that you couldn’t do on stage which really kind of helps bring the record to a make-believe place. Whereas live can be quite direct and in your face and you can make it work and try and put as much energy in as possible but yeah it’s too separate things.
What is your Favourite song to perform live and why?
My favourite song to perform I didn’t get to perform tonight which is unfortunate it will be on the record so It’s called ‘I Know It’s Mine’ It’s a cool tune we didn’t play it tonight but it will be on the record
You have toured in Germany, France, United Kingdom, Norway and Spain what was that like for you and do you have a favourite ?
No they are all great usually we do them all a second run so it kind of feels exactly like we are not necessarily in France or Germany. We are in a van and we do the show we drive for 6 or 8 hours or whatever. It’s not the same as travelling or going on holidays. So we wake up in a different town or whatever we do the show but it’s always great, the reaction the crowd and the people are amazing they are always welcoming and it’s always nice to see what way people are in different towns. It’s a lot different to this country. I always find people here are stand offish in Ireland whereas in France or Germany they are very in your face. It’s better I really like that but Irish kind of like, they don’t trust you for a little bit eventually they get to know you better and they come a bit closer but it’s a lot harder, a lot more harder work to get them in whereas in France or Germany everyone just stands there and it’s great they are just mad for it.
Have you had any bizarre experiences while you were touring or on stage?
Yeah many…. well I remember one time in France the Farfisa Organ was carried through the crowd and about 5 people with the keyboard player started playing i think i was in the crowd. I don’t know what way I was with the guitars it was just crazy I wouldn’t even call it music it was just noise – organised noise but it was pretty cool. But what’s crazy – it’s a live performance, people are supposed to get indulged you’d never get that over here people are a little bit afraid to loose their inhibitions maybe. We’ve had loads I remember (laughs) ah no there is a few I don’t even wanna say they could be looking at this, no I better not but yeah we have had a few.
Do you find it difficult to get the audience to engage?
In Ireland it is but everywhere else they are a bit more in your face It’s almost like they’ve paid in and they want their money’s worth it’s different over here it can be challenging you always see that guy in the back tapping his foot maybe then after a while you might get a leg shake or something then eventually a couple people dancing, it takes a few and then it’s like an infectious disease. If someone does it then it spreads.
What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?
Don’t (laughs) – it’s a life of misery. No it has its challenges 80% of a band is about waiting around talking and waiting to play if you’re doing tours. 20% of the time is playing – the rest of it is down to airports and the back of vans so be prepared for that. It’s not always on stage and craziness it can be quite challenging depending on the person as well. You need to be quite strong mentally and capable to do that for long periods of time especially if you’re fond of drink you won’t last long.
What’s next for The Revellions?
We are playing Whelans next month. We are doing Bare In The Woods Festival which is coming up soon. We are recording some brass next month. We have some brass players coming in to do a bit of session work for us and we are just continuing to do what we do. There will be a tour later on in the year and we will probable do Germany and Spain France and that scene again hopefully in maybe September.
Any last Words?
Go to the shop and buy my single ‘False Hope’
Stream ‘False Hope’ below